Locals boys prove their critics wrong

Daily Nation, Nairobi

Saturday, 30 May, 1998

It is unbelievable. Kenya has done it again.

First, it was the mighty West Indies and now it's India, who only recently defeated Australia. The huge Indian crowd could not believe when their captain Mohammed Azharudin was called to the podium to collect the runners-up prize.

Kenya captain Asif Karim, when asked how he felt about the victory, wanted time until the next morning, to digest the great win. Prior to the day-night match, which ended past midnight, Indian time, fans here were calculating how many runs or wickets should Kenya take to enter the final. Virtually nobody here expected that Kenya would win.

Before the start of the match at Gwalior, Karim had told commentators that his team would play positive cricket and try to build 200-plus runs and put India under pressure. Indeed, Indians were put under pressure with 266 to chase.

At the end of the match, Kenyans gave a wake up call to the mighty Indians. Indians were not only beaten but shaken on their own soil. Even the likes of Sachin Tendulkar, Navjot Sidhu, Mohammed Azharudin and Rahul Dravid were unable to master the Kenyan bowling, supported by high standards of fielding.

Karim was short of words when asked ``what it means to you to beat India in India''.

With that magnificent feat, Kenyans go to the Eden Gardens for the final against India.

Kenyan batting went off to a great start when new sensational Ravindu Shah hit 70 off 68 balls. This was a showpiece batting by Shah, who is touring for the first time with the Kenya team.

With the competition scores of 52, 21, 62 and 70, I have no doubt that Shah has reserved the prestigious man-of-the-series' award.

Though fellow opener Kennedy Otieno failed for the fourth time (total 34 runs) this did not deter the spirit of Kenyan batting. In came Maurice Odumbe, the man-of-the-match, to plunder 86 runs. The controversial Odumbe hit five glorious sixes, three of them were consecutive. I cannot remember any batsman hitting so many sixes in Gwalior. Odumbe now has 193 runs from four innings.

Then came left-handed batsman Hitesh Modi, who hit 52 off 54 balls. The praise he received erased the criticism of his golden duck against Bangladesh.

Kenya's innings had an average of 5.0 runs from the first 15 overs, they slowed down and picked-up again to total 265 from 50 overs.

Such was Kenya's bowling - tight and tidy - that Indian batsmen were made to look strangers. They were thrown back to the pavilion for only 196 off 47 overs. Martin Suji, Karim, Steve Tikolo and Odumbe all deserve praise. Medium-pacer Joseph Angara, who had a rare opportunity, also churned out a good spell.

After a disastrous performance in South Africa and at home in the Tri-Nation (Zimbabwe-Kenya-New Zealand) and against England 'A', Kenya appears to have come out of the doldrums.

In each of the four matches they have so far played in India, Kenyans have put a 200-plus score. They have learned to play the hard way. Let us hope Kenya will not be complacent, as they showed after the victory against West Indies. Kenya had the handicap of preparing without a professional coach but good news is that former West Indian star Alvin Kalicharan is arriving here soon for a two-year assignment. Indian commentators have said quite a bit of negative things about Kenya cricket. Let us not tell them to eat their words but let us accept their remarks as healthy criticism.

Source: Daily Nation, Nairobi

Contributed by CricInfo Management

Date-stamped : 31 May1998 - 14:29